Fact Sheet on the Benefits of Exercise - Update Your Knowledge
Published: 23 March 2017
Published: 23 March 2017
People are often told that exercise should be part of everyday life and that it has various benefits. But what exactly are the key benefits of exercise regarding health, wellbeing and physiology?
For starters, the NHS states that people who do regular physical activity have:
Some other benefits of exercise for physical health may include:
Exercise stimulates neurochemicals that elevate your mood, memory and learning (Mindhealthconnect 2016). Some of these mood-improving chemicals are serotonin and endorphins; but mood may also improve due to the environmental and social experience of physical activity that could prevent negative feelings such as loneliness (Mindhealthconnect, 2016).
An extra benefit for mental health may include a boost in self-esteem from appropriate weight loss or healthy weight maintenance resulting from exercise (Mindhealthconnect, 2016). More bonuses of regular exercise can include: better sleep; stress-reduction; and even prevention of damage to the brain, via exercise increasing the connections between nerve cells of the brain (Mindhealthconnect, 2016).
Exercise has short- and long-term benefits that can evidently contribute to wellbeing or quality of life, when implemented regularly and at least 30min daily (Better Health Channel, 2012). Better Health Channel further recommends:
‘Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 to 2 hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week. Do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week.’
The World Health Organisation recommends the following:
‘Children and adolescents aged 5-17years
Adults aged 18-64 years
Adults aged 65 years and above
The World Health Organisation (WHO) (2017a) states that ‘physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths globally.’
Thus, the WHO highlight the serious need for people worldwide to adopt healthy physical activity in their lifestyles. They claim that a quarter of adults throughout the world are not getting enough physical activity! Moreover, 80% of adolescents at a global scale are not physically active enough (WHO, 2017b)!
Firstly, what is metabolism? Basically it refers to the chemical processes that keep your body functioning (NHS, 2015b). These processes utilise energy, and the basic energy requirement to maintain proper function is termed the ‘basal metabolic rate’ (BMR); which, can be anywhere between 40-70% of your daily energy needs (NHS, 2015b).
Each person’s needs vary, and age, gender, genetics and lifestyle are influencing factors (NHS, 2015b). Males often have more muscle mass, heavier bones and less fat than females, and hence often have a higher BMR than women (NHS, 2015b). Similarly, older adults often have more fat and decreased muscle and thereby BMR can decline with age (NHS, 2015b).
Below are some key points about how exercise can increase your BMR to promote weight loss, from Webmd (2015) and NHS (2015b):
Important notes: Better Health Channel (2012) conveys that:
‘It is a good idea to see your doctor before starting your physical activity program if:
Furthermore, a pre-exercise screening tool (for example, those found at: https://www.essa.org.au/for-gps/adult-pre-exercise-screening-system/) can be utilised to check your risks for exercise. Good people to seek help from regarding exercise, can include: General Practitioners (GPs); registered exercise professionals (e.g. personal trainers, fitness instructors); exercise physiologists; physiotherapists (Better Health Channel, 2012); or qualified weight management practitioners.
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Madeline Gilkes, CNS, RN, is a Fellow of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine. She focused her master of healthcare leadership research project on health coaching for long-term weight loss in obese adults. In recent years, Madeline has found a passion for preventative nursing, transitioning from leadership roles (CNS Gerontology & Education, Clinical Facilitator) in hospital settings to primary healthcare nursing. Madeline’s vision is to implement lifestyle medicine to prevent and treat chronic conditions. Her brief research proposal for her PhD application involves Lifestyle Medicine for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Madeline is working towards Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE) status and primarily works in the role of Head of Nursing. Madeline’s philosophy focuses on using humanistic management, adult learning theories/evidence and self-efficacy theories and interventions to promote positive learning environments. In addition to her Master of Healthcare Leadership, Madeline has a Graduate Certificate in Diabetes Education & Management, Graduate Certificate in Adult & Vocational Education, Graduate Certificate of Aged Care Nursing, and a Bachelor of Nursing. See Educator Profile